Feedback on the new power system (0.61b)

Mr. Fusion 3 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 2 months ago 5

I played a few hours with the new power system, and in general it appeared to work as expected, but I didn't perform any specific/targeted tests on it, only kept an eye on how it works and if anything seems off.

A few specific issues I've noticed:

  • Systems appear to charge the battery even when they are turned off. I don't think this is how it should work, since it means that all the panel slots effectively belong to Electrical, not to their respective systems. When a system is turned off or has component failures, it should not be able to send charge to the battery, and its charge should be reported as zero on the hab status screen.
  • The Reoxygenator power use line is "stuck", it always reads as 50 even when turned off, and it's added to the total drain on top of the screen. However, it doesn't actually drain power when turned off, only the display shows it all the time.
  • When Electrical is turned off, the charge side of the total charge/drain line should drop to 0, since there's no actual charge happening without Electrical. The systems do produce those units, but at that time, without Electrical, it's not charge as such.
  • There was one time when the hab status display completely broke: most of the text disappeared, and a single line of text (the charge/drain line of the Heater) started to fill the screen first upwards fron where it normally is, then also down to the bottom, and after a few seconds the normal status text returned. It was during a storm, so I'm not sure if it was just some intended but very rare display corruption related to that, but didn't really look like it.

A few notes on balance and possible improvements/changes:

  • The Reoxygenator could switch to the low power state when there's no water available for it (nothing to break down so that part of the system powers down).
  • The water and oxygen production rate is way too high. Since systems are now running constantly, unlike before when they throttled down for the night, they are producing probably close to twice as much as before. Their base production rate should be lowered significantly to compensate for this.
  • Power production vs. use feels a bit high currently (I got about 40% left morning to morning with all systems running and suit charged up), and in part because of that, and in part to make choices between what to turn off a bit more interesting, I think the power use of the three producing systems could be tweaked a little as follows:
    Water Reclaimer: 60/45
    Reoxygenator: 50/40
    Heater: 55/35
    The increase is not as significant as it looks, since the Heater is practically always in low power mode (and the Water Reclaimer is also likely to hit cap after a while and power down, in which case it can even be turned off if you want to save power), so while previously the "nominal" drain from these 3 systems was 50+50+40=140, it would be 60+50+35=145 with these values. I think this would be just enough added drain to make the power budget a bit tighter.
  • Because of the offline systems still providing charge, I coouldn't get really good info on how the power holds up during a storm, but in may be necessary to raise the minimum panel efficiency from 15% to 20%. as changes in the panel efficiency now have a different impact on the power balance than they had with the percentage based implementation.

Discovery issue with specific WayStat

Mr. Fusion 3 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 3 months ago 2

The WayStat at Lat 283.07, Lon -6.4651 triggers the discovery event only if looked at from certain directions and being very close (a few meters) to it. From any other direction you can walk right up to it and it won't get discovered until you walk around it to find the right spot and distance.

I noticed this at a few times but since it's not possible to test once discovered, I wasn't quite sure about it until now.


East hab location waypoint marker off

Mr. Fusion 3 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 3 months ago 1

The waypoint marker of the East hab location is off by approximately 50 meters to the South-West from the habitat entrance.

I've noticed this several times but kept forgetting to actually report it.


RTG feels too powerful (or power generation is unbalanced)

Mr. Fusion 4 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 3 months ago 16

I believe the idea behind the RTG was to be able to power one system without the use of solar panels for that one system. However, currently the RTG is much more powerful than that: when installed to the Electrical system, it can keep the battery fully charged at all times with 3 of the 4 systems turned on (turning the 4th on brings Electrical to "not meeting demand" state, so that's the tipping point), without local power (all solar panels at 0% due to a storm) to those systems at any time of the day (for several days).

While I've never actually tested if it's the same if Electrical is powered to 100% with solar panels, but if it is, then that feels wrong too as it would be the same case: you only need 100% charge in the Electrical to run 2 other systems without any local power there at all.

Under review

HUD battery icon ahead of percentage

Mr. Fusion 4 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 4 months ago 1

When the suit battery is charging via the portable panel, the battery icon is "ahead" of the charge percentage display, as in, for example when the charge reaches about 65%, the icon jumps to what I'd take as 90%, and at 85% charge readout the icon goes to full already.

It's about the same for the entire range, however, I think the difference is somehow bigger when the level is going up, and feels more accurate when it's going down starting from full.


Recent research into dust devils

darker99 4 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 4 months ago 1

Quite recently a paper on dust devils on Mars was published: https://arxiv.org/abs/1708.00484

Three quotes that could be of special interest to you (Brian Jackson et al. 2017):

"Instead, we can adapt their formulation for our estimated typical, actual diameter of 13 m (Figure 9), which gives an occurrence rate ten times higher, 1 event per sol per km2. [...] This estimate includes detection biases and a population average should be used instead of typical values, but these results are roughly consistent with terrestrial field studies that estimate 40% of dust devils lift visible amounts of dust (Lorenz and Jackson, 2015)."

"Figure 8 (b) shows the resulting Γobs distribution. Consistent with estimates of the distributions of dust devil widths (e.g. Reiss and Lorenz, 2016), wider devils are less common than narrow devils, and Figure 8 (b) shows a power-law model for the differential distribution with index -1.6 provides a reasonable fit.
The distribution also declines for dust devils narrower than [...]18 m, seemingly at odds with the results of Reiss and Lorenz (2016), which conducted a visual survey of dust devil tracks and reported a population dominated by devils with a diameters < 10 m. However, the apparent decline on the narrow-end of the distribution is likely the result of selection bias in Ellehoj et al. (2010). Given the typical wind velocity of 5 m/s measured at the Phoenix site, a devil with a width ∼ 10 m would produce a signal with only a ∼2-s duration."

"For example, the devils with the deepest pressure profiles seem to occur preferentially around mid-day local time both on Mars Ellehoj et al. (2010) and the Earth Jackson and Lorenz (2015)."

Which means that for the 25 sq mile map (about time you Americans finally switched to metres now that even Myanmar and Liberia are converting) there should be around 64*0.4=25.6 visible dust devils per sol, skewed towards midday. They should be generally small at around 10m diameter or less, although a rare one might reach a width of around 100m. They should move at a speed of some 5 m/s on average.


Has oxygen production rate been changed?

Mr. Fusion 4 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 4 months ago 6

I seem to be getting considerably less oxygen in 0.59 / 0.59.1 than in the previous versions, so much so that I'm slowly running out of oxygen even though the reoxygenator is running constantly, while in previous versions I have always been bulding up a healthy excess over time, and I'm doing things in the exact same manner / pattern than before so my oxygen usage should be about the same.

I have a suspicion that oxygen production may be stopping completely while the player is not "near" the habitat; maybe outside of terrain load/unload range? Can't think of any other reason why I'm getting much less oxygen than before as when I'm in/around the Hab, it seems to be producing about 6L / hour, and if it continued to do that while I'm away on a 35-40 hours long exploration trip, I should be seeing quite a lot in reserve once I'm back, but it's actually not even enough to refill the canisters I used up while away.


Hab status panel may show state of previously visited Hab

Mr. Fusion 4 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 4 months ago 3

When moving between habitats, the status display panel may show the system states of the previously exited Hab under certain circumstances, until the player interacts with the status consoles at which point the display gets updated to the correct states.

There appears to be some inconsistency in this: when I moved from a powered up Hab to an unpowered one, the display was correct (all red). When I moved back to the powered Hab, the panel of that Hab still showed all red even though everytjing was in fact running, until I used the status console there.


Suit power may go above 100% when charged by the hab

Mr. Fusion 4 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 4 months ago 2

When the Hab reserve power is full and the suit gets trickle charged, it sometimes may show a charge level slightly above 100% on the manage suit screen; I usually see 100.4% or 100.7% in such cases. This excess charge can be transferred back and forth between the suit and the hab without getting lost.

This condition may have something to do with having rested for long enough to have the suit fully charged by the trickle during the rest period; I didn't explicitly test for this.


Hab system power drops to 0% during storm

Mr. Fusion 4 months ago in Gameplay • updated by Tyler Owen (Lead Developer) 3 months ago 4

The power level / charge rate of all hab systems, regardless of how many solar panels are installed, drop to 0% in a storm affected area, while the portable solar panel still charges at the expected very low rate as it did in the previous version.

The patch notes mention a change to power production while in a storm, but not that the 15% charge cap has been reverted and the storm completely shuts down power generation again.